Another Really Cool Free Tool for Real Estate

Posted on: March 20th, 2012 by

SEO for Real Estate

SEO for Real Estate with SocialMonkee

I surf the internet A LOT to keep you guys updated.  I have multiple Google Alerts set up to assist with keeping me up to date on many of the new technologies, changes in “old” technologies, or to inform me of technologies that are just new to me.

Every so often I will make a new discovery that I feel I must share with you; and, last week, I made one of those discoveries.  If you know anything about search engine optimization then you know how important it is to your website’s ranking on Google, and the website I discovered helps to automate the backlinking process for you.  The website is called Social Monkee, and as I mentioned the service that site offers is completely free.  Since I just discovered and started using the site I’m no expert with it, but here’s how it works.

First go to the Social Monkee website by clicking here, and register for your free account.  By the way, in the interest of full disclosure – because that’s my style, if you click on the link above and register I will get credit towards an account upgrade.  Now the real reason for this post is that this site is awesome, not because I want an account upgrade.  If you feel like this site is too cool to live without then click the link above and share some love with the one who shared this site with you.  If you don’t want to share the love, sign up for an account with them anyway by going directly to their site.

Next, install Social Monkee’s Firefox plugin.  Then when you are on the page you want to promote, click on the monkey’s head in your Firefox Add On bar.  The Social Monkee Firefox plugin will prepopulate the fields needed to enter backlinks for you.  Check to make sure the information is correct, choose a category, preview, and then click submit.  That is it!!

So, what did you just do that I am so excited about?  You just created 25 UNIQUE do follow backlinks to your page.  Social Monkee allows you to create 25 backlinks to your site each and every day for free.  Of course, Social Monkee does have a paid plan that allows you to submit up to 100 unique backlinks each day for 3 different URL’s for a total of 300 daily backlinks.  The cost of that plan is a one time fee of $47, but I truly believe 90% of the Realtors out there can make due with the free plan.

Social Monkee will post those backlinks slowly over time so Google doesn’t think you are trying to manipulate their system, and these backlinks will be listed in a report for your viewing pleasure after the job is done in a few days.

So, give Social Monkee a try today and start working your way to page 1 of Google.  If you’ve used Social Monkee before and have some great tips to add, then please do so below.  If you are just tickled pink that I shared this cool new site with you, then please leave that comment below as well.  Don’t forget to enter a link to your URL in your comment so that you can get some Google juice since you are here anyway.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Top to Bottom Email Marketing for Real Estate – Part 2

Posted on: March 16th, 2012 by
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Yesterday, I wrote about why email marketing for real estate is important, how to get your email marketing campaign setup for free, and what to send in your emails to your database.  Today I want to talk about a couple of ways you can get more of your emails opened by your subscribers.  After all, if you put your best content in a newsletter that goes unopened then you’ve just played all of your cards in one hand – and lost.

So, I’m going to jump right in and drop the bombshell on you first thing.  You can get 28% higher email open rates by using email in conjunction with social media.  This is simply because people are much more apt to open emails from someone they know than someone they don’t.  An active presence on social media helps people to get to know you even if they’ve never met you in person.

The second way you can increase your open rates is to segment your subscribers.  I’ve talked about this before, but it definitely bears repeating.  Put your subscribers into different lists and be selective about what emails you send to each segment.  For example, you may divide your subscribers into 3 distinct groups depending on how they subscribed.  You may have a 1st Time Homebuyers list made up of subscribers from your free report entitled, “5 Things Every 1st Time Homebuyer Must Know When Buying a Home.”  You may have a Move Up Homebuyers list made up of subscribers from your free report entitled, “5 Things Every Seller Must Know When Selling One Home and Buying Another.”  Finally, you may have a Move Down Homebuyer list made up of subscribers from your free report entitled, “5 Things Every Seller Must Know Before Downsizing Their Home.”  You should carefully select the messages you send to each group knowing what each groups’ goals are.  Segmenting your subscriber list will prevent you from sending a “one size fits all” email campaign to your subscribers, and it will drastically increase your open rates.

So, to get more of your emails opened by your prospects, be more active on social media and segment your marketing.  If you have a super duper top secret method of increasing your email open rates, please leave it in the comment section below.

Top to Bottom Email Marketing for Real Estate – Part 1

Posted on: March 15th, 2012 by
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Email marketing is such a necessity in today’s competitive real estate market.  With a limited supply of buyers, each and every real estate lead or email address captured on your website or fan page is worth more than its weight in gold.  The issue here is that most of those who opt into our email database never hear from us again.  Why?  Because we are too busy solving the problem of the day to worry about composing an autoresponder campaign to keep our names in front of these prospects.  A large percentage of the subcribers on our lists are not in the market to buy or sell today, so we have to be there when they are ready.  There is no better way to do this than with email marketing and it really is quite easy.

Personally, I use Aweber to collect and manage my emails addresses for me for about $19 per month.  Aweber has some fantastic email opt in form templates that are fully customizable to fit right into your website or fan page.  If you do not need to set up an autoresponder campaign, then you can use MailChimp as your service provider for free.  Personally I love the autoresponders because I don’t have to even think about emailing my database.  It truly is Ron Popeil style marketing – just set it and forget it.  Once a visitor opts in to your newsletter their email address is captured in your database and you can begin sending them emails.  The key is consistency.  Whether you decide to send your database something weekly, biweekly, or monthly it doesn’t really matter.  Just make sure you send your emails according to schedule. 

So, what do you send them in the emails?  You can send your favorite blog post from the previous week, send the latest sales trends or stats in your city or state, send a newsletter, ask them to complete a quick survey, or all of the above. Sending emails is only half the battle.  In tomorrow’s blog post I’m going to give you some tips to get higher open rates for your emails.  Open rates are just what they sound like – the percentage of people on your email list who actually open your emails.  Be sure to stop by tomorrow to read part 2 of this series to learn how you can increase your open rates by 28%.  I look forward to seeing you then.

6 of My Favorite Free Tools for Real Estate

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by
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Geeky.  Nerdy.  Techie.  These are not really the terms I want to use to describe myself, but I have a confession to make.  I am a fan of any technology that I can use to make my life, personal or professional, easier.  If that makes me a techno, nerdy geek then I guess I’ll wear my pocket protector with honor.

To justify my new self designated title, I’m giving you 6 free online tools to use for your real estate business.  You may want to bookmark this post on your browser and refer back to it later because I want your help at the end of this post.  So, without further ado, here my list of awesome free tools to help your real estate business…

1. MailChimp – Free basic email newsletter service for up to 2000 subscribers.  I talk a lot about email marketing and how you need to be using it in your real estate business.  I have used MailChimp in the past, and I can tell you that it is a pretty solid service.  Even though I recently switched to Aweber, I highly recommend you give MailChimp a try.

2. Google Alerts – Watch your competitors, your company, and yourself by setting up Google Alerts with this awesome service.

3. Jing – This is a free screen capture program that lets you capture images and record videos of your computer screen.  Next to Microsoft Outlook and Word, this is my most used piece of software on my computer.  I love Jing!

4. Google Docs – Speaking of Microsoft Word, are you looking for a free alternative? Try Google Docs.  It allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, or even surveys.  This cloud (internet) based software allows you to access your documents from any computer at any time by logging into Google Docs using your Gmail email and password.

5. Dropbox – A great cloud based storage and sharing service.  Now that you’re using Jing you need somewhere to store your videos so you can get them later or share them with a client.  You get 2 GB of file storage for free and sharing files or folders with others is a breeze.

6. WordPress – You can build your own personal real estate website for free using WordPress.  With thousands of free themes to choose from you can have a beautiful, Google friendly website online by tomorrow morning.  You’ll need to buy a domain and setup hosting to host your account (I recommend HostGator for that) for a small monthly fee.

I love sharing some of my favorite cool, free resources with everyone, but I know there are a gazillion other awesome free tools for Realtors out there.  I want to hear about your favorites as well.  Share your favorites and hopefully you’ll find a new favorite as well.  After you’ve added your favorite tool, then please share this article on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon.  If this thing gets rolling we can build the largest free real estate toolbox on the net.  So my fellow techno geek, dig out your own pocket protector from your desk drawer and share the free love!

2 Important Benefits of the New Facebook Timeline Apps for Real Estate Agents

Posted on: March 13th, 2012 by
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I’ve written a great deal about Facebook’s new Timeline over the past couple of weeks because, like it or not, your real estate fan page will become aTimeline effective 3/30/12.  I want you to be ready when the new Timeline is forced upon us, and as I’ve mentioned before there are some good changes and bad changes coming with the Timeline mandate.  Your fan page should be an integral part of your overall marketing plan, and if you are going to market using Facebook, then you may as well market effectively after all.

One of the biggest changes coming with the Timeline, as I have mentioned before, is the location of the new Timeline Apps section of Facebook.  Here’s where the links to the apps section of your old fanpage is located…

The new apps section on your Timeline is located right underneath your cover photo as shown below…

This change gives your apps a position on some prime Facebook real estate.  Because of this a couple of benefits of the new apps section should be noted when building your Facebook fan page.

1. Larger Apps Space – The new Timeline apps give you 810 pixels of width to get your message across to your fans compared to 520 pixels allowed in the current iFrames.  This is additional space you can use to collect emails, show your videos, or show your listings.  Be sure you have a clear purpose for the additional territory and stick to it.  The last thing you need to happen is for the message of that tab to get lost by cramming too many secondary messages into it.

2. Thumbnails – As you can see above, you can now use 111 pixel X 74 pixel thumbnails (photos or images) to draw traffic to your tabs.  There is an amazing opportunity to create a strong call to action for your fans by including text in the graphic.  Add something like “See My Listings” to the icon to let prospects know what great information you have hidden behind that thumbnail.

With these new changes, Facebook is requiring brands/ businesses to engage with their fans more so than in the past.  Use this requirement to your benefit by taking advantage of the two big apps changes above and get a jump on other Realtors in your market.

3 Online Reputation Management Tips for Real Estate Agents

Posted on: March 10th, 2012 by

I recently Googled the name of a friend of mine in order to find her mailing address.  The very first result for her name was a picture of her mug shot on from a DUI she was charged with a little over a year ago.  Because I know her, I know that the charges were later dropped before the case ever went to court, but her mug shot is still out there for the world to see.  It doesn’t have to be a mug shot that your next former potential client saw.  It could be a negative review on a real estate website on the vast worldwide web.  So, how does one prevent this from happening?

Well, here are some ideas.

  1. Create a Google Alert for your name – Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results of the web, news, blogs, etc. based on search queries that you establish.  This helps to inform you anytime you have a negative review posted online or anything else that you don’t want the world to see.  If you know of something negative that has been posted online, then you have the opportunity to react to it.  If you never know the negative information is out there for the world to see, then you may lose business because there is a fair chance your clients have seen it.
  2. Be proactive and preemptive – Have your satisfied clients post online reviews for you starting today.  With the invention of laptops, smart phones, and tablets, this has never been easier.  You can ask your smiling, happy clients to do this after you close on their new or current home.  Some agents dread asking a client to post a review, but the truth is most clients are more than happy to help you because you’ve just helped them.  Ask them immediately before you go into the closing and be sure to follow up with them after the closing to make sure they complete the review for you.  If you have 200 awesome reviews on the internet and 1 or 2 bad ones, then those bad ones will have much less of a negative effect on any future prospects’ preconceptions of you.
  3.  Be everywhere – Ok, if you don’t already have your own personal website, then shame on you!  Go get one now or call me and I’ll be happy to build one for you.  If you do have a personal website, then you need to be sure that website is the first result of a Google search for your name (in your town or state).  If it is not, then you need to be getting serious about your search engine optimization.  Once you’ve gotten your website in the number one position, then you need to get very active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, etc, etc.  The more you control the way you are presented online, the less affected you will be by negative reviews or news.  The fact is if those negative things are buried below a sea of positives then you may as well consider those negative things nonexistent.

If you’ve been in this crazy real estate game long enough, then you have at least one unsatisfied client out there.  I know you are shocked and amazed to hear this, but even I have one.  Yep, the client that I refused to help commit fraud during a transaction was unhappy with me.  She didn’t post anything negative online about me, but she could have.  If she had, I was ready for her.  Soon after the negative review posted, Google Alerts would have told me my name was mentioned online, and I would have read her post.  From that point, I would have searched Google to see that her negative review was result number 1,423 in Google because I’ve worked very hard on numbers 2 and 3 above.

If you have some suggestions on ways you can manage your reputation online, then please feel free to leave those below.


Is Facebook Filtering Your Content?

Posted on: March 9th, 2012 by
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Facebook sure is a noisy place, but what is scary is that Facebook filters a great deal of that noise before it ever gets to us.  I have noticed before that some of my posts don’t make it to my news feed, and I was always curious why that was.  Well, Facebook has recently announced that my observations are correct.  Well, they didn’t mention me specifically (which I’m sure was a mere oversight), but what they did say is that their algorithm filters out, on average, 84% of what is put on Facebook.  84%???  So, on average 16% of an individual’s friends, or a company’s fans, will see a post from that company or individual.  That is amazing considering my news feed looks like a stock ticker after about 12 Red Bulls.

Facebook’s Vice President of Product, Chris Cox says that 16% is the average “across all posts from all profiles, and all pages of all different audience sizes and all different networks.”  Part of me wants to shake VP Cox’s hand and part of me wants to thump him on the nose.  I want to have my cake and eat it too.  I want all of my messages heard but I don’t want to be bombarded with the other 84% of content that is being filtered.

So, what do we, as smart marketers, do?  No, we don’t dump Facebook altogether for Google+.  We give our fans and friends more of what they want.  Facebook doesn’t filter 84% of the posts you make.  They filter 84% of the posts you could have received.  The algorithm focuses on delivering to its users what Facebook thinks they will be most interested in.  Don’t be a part of the noise, be a part of the sweet music.  Give very valuable content to your fans and friends, and see if you can break the Facebook average.

What are your thoughts about Big Brother… er, Facebook’s censorship?  Please leave your comments below.

Did Steve Jobs Smile or Yawn Today?

Posted on: March 8th, 2012 by
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If you have turned on your computer (and I am pretty sure you have if you are reading this) or television today then you no doubt have heard that the iPad3 was released today.  Apple’s newest release of the tablet that started it all has some great new features and advances that may keep the other tablets scrambling for market share.  Some of the biggest new features are as follows:

1. Improved Display – iPad’s new display has four times more pixels than the iPad2.  This increase in pixels gives the iPad user an HD experience on a tablet device.  Granted this won’t help you sell more houses, but it sure makes for a much nicer user experience.

2. Advanced Optics – The new iPad’s advanced optics and the 5 megapixel camera allow you to take beautiful pictures or shoot 1080p HD videos.  Now that should certainly get you excited as you’ll be able to take better pictures of your listings as well as shoot your YouTube videors in glorious HD.  Now that is pretty cool!

3. 4G – Ok, we all want more, and we all want more faster.  The new iPad3 gives us that with 4G LTE networks.  Now uploading that new HD video you just shot while you are on the road to your 4 pm closing just got a lot faster and downloading the home inspection just emailed to you got faster as well.

4. Hotspot – What really excites me about the new iPad is the hotspot feature.  You can connect up to 5 devices to your iPad3 as long as your carrier can support it.

5. Be a Dictator – With the dictation feature, you talk, it types.  That sure will help to make typing those emails much quicker.

I’ve got to be honest with you here.  I’m an Apple virgin!  Yep, I own NO Apple products!  But, after seeing the new iPad in action today and reading some articles about it, I believe I’m going to lose my Apple virginity very soon.

What are your thoughts?  Should I?  I value your opinions, so please leave them below.

6 Best Practices for Building Your New Facebook Real Estate Cover Photo

Posted on: March 7th, 2012 by
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By now, we have all heard that Facebook Timeline will be mandatory for all fan pages effective March 30th, 2012.  One of the big changes in Timeline is the addition of a Cover Photo.  A cover photo is 852 pixes wide and 315 pixels high, and it is similar to your website banner image but on your Facebook Fan Page instead.  Facebook has imposed some restrictions as to what can and cannot be put into a cover photo, but these photos can be used to visually convey a great deal of information about your real estate business/brand.

First, here are things that Facebook will not allow:

1. Price or Purchase Information – for example, listing the sales price of a property for sale is not acceptable. “Call for Information” is also unacceptable.

2. Contact Information – web addresses, email, mailing address, or other information intended for your page’s “About” section.

3. References to Interfacing – such as “Like” or “Share” or any other Facebook site features.

4. Calls to Action – “Get it now!” or “Tell Your Friends!”

5. Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property.

6. Cover photos must not incentivize people to upload your cover image to their personal timelines.

So, that is pretty much everything that Facebook won’t allow in your cover photo, so here are some tips to keep in mind while building your cover photo:

1. Start thinking of how you can translate your real estate business into visuals.  How can you incorporate your business philosophy into a photo?  Will you feature your photos of your listings?

2. Start thinking about how you can WOW your prospects instead of how you can use it to sell your services.

3. Start thinking of your cover photo as a billboard where you have to capture the attention of your prospects in a matter of seconds.

4. Make your cover photo unique by creating or investing in unique graphics from a professional designer.

5. Have several photos that you can interchange so that your Fan Page doesn’t get stale.

6. Have some sort of a watermark in each cover photo to keep your images from being “borrowed.”

Go ahead and start getting your photos together and be prepared when March 30 rolls around.  Personally, I’m waiting to roll out the new Timeline until I’m forced to do it by Facebook on the 30th, but I’m kind of excited to see some of the cover photos out there once we all are forced to use the new Pages.

If you already have your Fan Page cover photo on your page, then please reply below with a link to your Fan Page.  I would love to see what you’ve done so far.

Insights You Can Gain from Facebook’s Insights Tab

Posted on: March 6th, 2012 by
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Most Realtors I know don’t do a very good job keeping records of which marketing/advertising campaign is producing and which is not. Now I will say that measuring success in social media marketing is difficult for all businesses.  But it can be much more difficult for Realtors than other businesses because Realtors typically don’t have a golden egg to offer (such as mention this ad and get 10% off your next purchase) that typical retail or service businesses can offer.  Add to that the fact that the fruits of our online marketing labors may not be realized until many, many months after the seed was planted, and you completely begin to understand why many Realtors throw their hands up after a couple of months of social media marketing and call it quits due to it being unproductive.

Well, Facebook is trying to eliminate that frustration for all of us with their not quite so new “Insights” tab on your Facebook fan page.  This tab is only visible to page administrators, and it lists the page’s total number of likes, total number of people reached via those fans, and a graph to show whether those numbers are increasing or decreasing.  There is also a new metric that Facebook has introduced called “People Talking About This.”  This new metric measures the actual number of people talking about the page, liking the page, posting to the page’s wall, liking/sharing/commenting on a post, RSVP’ing to an event, or checking in at your place.

The main advantage of this information on a post level is that it gives us administrators an idea of what types of posts our fans want to see more of.  Giving our fans more of what they want to see will in turn increase the virality of our message.  This is huge for us marketers because we all know that word of mouth marketing is extremely important to the success of our businesses.

So, Facebook has given us yet again one more reason to be doing business on a fan page instead of on our personal profiles.  The insight that Insights is providing us is very unique in the social media marketing world because no other platform provides us with statistics like this that allows us to monitor our marketing efforts.  Start taking advantage of the information available on Insights today and start giving your fans more of what they want tomorrow.  Getting your message spread virally will help to make your phone ring.  It is up to you and your charm to make the magic happen from there.

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